Meet a family forged by loss and visit the home they built with love.
What’s old becomes new in a house that loss and love built.
My husband, Robbie, and I call our home Havilah, a Hebrew word with a double meaning: “writhing in pain” and “to bring forth.” It essentially signifies the making of something beautiful through intense pain, such as childbirth. In our case, Havilah represents the coming together of two families following the loss of loved ones.
My first husband died in a car accident, and Robbie’s wife was taken by melanoma. Our common experience became a launching point for our budding romance. Just a few months after meeting, we married. Robbie packed up his teenage son and two dogs and moved in with me and my two preschoolers. (He also has an older married son.)
It didn’t take long to realize we needed a place we could all call home, so we decided to build a house in the country. Everyone thought we were crazy to subject a new marriage to the stress such a project can bring. Instead, it gave us a united goal, and we discovered a mutual love for giving old things new life. We bonded over antique-hunting, browsing flea markets and calling out bids at the auction house.
Today our house is filled with a conglomeration of his, mine and ours. Visitors often say how homey the house feels even though it’s new. Although I display more things than most people—I don’t like to hide them in the attic—I keep the look orderly. That makes everything appear purposeful, which is important to us since we put our heart and soul into every detail. Each special find, no matter how old or broken, has the potential to become something new again.
Tragedy brought our family together, but we didn’t build our home to forget the past. We built it to bring life from the ashes, to celebrate hope. It is a place of belonging, a place to celebrate life and where we all cling to the promise of a future.